Category Archives: touring spot

Swayambhu saga: Panchamukhi temple – Where ‘power’ reigns

Hyderabad: The Panchamukhi Hanuman temple is next to the Secunderabad railway station, at Ghasmandi Road. You can hear the trains honk as they pass by. The narrow road leads to the ever-crowded Monda Market. Names are lost in the hoary past and the family that still has a presence here, but is not in control of the temple, does not remember too much about the past.

“This was a place where sadhus would congregate and meditate,” says Bhavani Mahant, son of late Sham Das, the younger brother of late Gulab Das, who really brought this 500-600-year-old temple to life. Gulab Das died a decade ago and till then actively looked after it. The Panchamukhi Hanuman here is swayambhu and is supposed to have given darshan to Pancham Das, who was the first priest to come here from Varanasi. “Hanumanji unko darshan diye aur prakat hue,” Bhavan Mahant says.

When and why Pancham Das came here is not known to anyone. It could have been because someone told him to travel to Secunderabad for prayers and blessings at the feet of the sadhus. After Pancham Das, his son Baldev Das took over. He was a contractor for the British who were here to build the roads, raise an army, and run the railways. The station being next door to the temple helped Baldev Das. 

“He was very much into development,” says Sheela Mahant, widow of Pancham Das, son of Gulab Das. She has three sons and a daughter and while one has gone abroad, the other two sons visit the temple once in a while even though they hold high-tech jobs. Baldev Das added two mandapams to the basic temple. The swayambhu Hanuman is emergent on a humongous rock, which is suitably painted a vivid orange, symbolic of Lord Hanuman, and as you perambulate, you see the painting of Lord Hanuman right behind where the main icon is. The paint has practically peeled off with all the devotees worshipping the painted icon.

Since Baldev Das had two daughters, it was his grandson Gulab Das who took over. He brought about a lot of changes within this small temple. There were small icons of Shiva, Ganesha, Naga Devata and Navagraha and he built tiny temples for these icons too, allowing people to do their own puja. In fact thanks to Gulab Das, the temple doors are also well endowed with silver frames.

“While I am not aware of any miracles, I can say that people come here with a wish and when it is fulfilled they come back and contribute a lot to the temple. That is how I know that the Panchamukhi Hanuman is very powerful. Then they become devotees who come regularly,” says Sheela Mahant. Most of the development of the temple has been done through the resources and because of the interest of the family.

Sheela Mahant is extremely unhappy with the endowments department. “Thanks to some mischief makers in the temple, the department officials one day walked in without any notice and sealed off the hundis,” she says. “Since there was no elderly male figure at that time, they could do it, but it is of no help them taking over, for they do not contribute anything towards the development of the temple,” she says, a tad angrily. And this is in spite of the Supreme Court ruling that the hereditary founder family can run a temple.

“Our livelihoods have been affected by this single act of the Endowments Department,” says Sheela Mahant. She herself comes from a religious family, with her father being the head priest of yet another Hanuman temple in Mumbai, called the Picket Road Maruthi Temple. Each year during Hanuman Jayanti, the main icon gets a treatment and the Sindhoor, which is the main colour of Lord Hanuman, is slowly removed. Several layers get formed over the year and for the safekeeping of the original icon, this is done. The day after Hanuman Jayanti is annadanam or ‘annakoot’ as they call it.

Sheela Mahant lives in a house which is more than 100 years old, sharing the wall of the temple. A narrow staircase leads to small rooms, with flowers and small trees growing cheerfully out of the crevices of the old building and a huge terrace, making it a charming place. The temple as a structure came into existence close to 300 years ago. Since this is a Panchamukhi Hanuman, each and every face of Sri Panchamukha Hanuman has great significance. There are five faces – Hanuman, Narasimha, Garuda, Varaha and Hayagriva. Sri Hanuman faces towards the East, granting purity of mind and success.

The Narasimha faces South granting victory and fearlessness. The West facing Garuda removes black magic and poisons in any given situation, and the North facing Varaha showers prosperity and wealth. Hayagriva Mukhi faces towards the sky, and gives knowledge and good children. The puja is conducted accordingly and the devotee is asked to look in all the directions for the best effect.

According to the local legends, the Lord promises special security to all his devotees. The entrance arch and the gopuram have been retained in their original form and both are dust-ridden with old flowers still dotting the place; two-wheelers parked haphazardly make the road narrower. The smell of spices wafting in from the shop next door adds to the ancient feel of the temple. The aroma permeates the air as the bells cling in unison every time an aarti is shown.

COURTESY      DECCAN CHRONICLE

Location: IndiaTelanganaHyderabad

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The Vithoba temple

The Vithoba temple had its origins amid a jungle more than 150 years ago

Devotees know it as Jungle Vithoba temple. Named after a wild forest on the banks of the Musi, the temple’s gopuram soars into the sky with a tapering saffron flag fluttering in the wind. You can easily miss it on the road that runs parallel to Musi near Gowliguda but for the shikaram/gopuram.

In the evening, as the bhajan mandali troupes in almost every day, the clanging of cymbals and the soaring ‘Vitthala, Vitthala, Panduranga Vitthala’ echo through the streets as children emerge to play on the road.

Alas, the jungle after which the temple is named no longer exists. Now reduced to a traffic island, albeit a large one at that.

“All this was jungle and belonged to this temple. Even the Mahatma Gandhi Bus Station was built on this temple’s land,” says a devotee waiting for the temple doors to open for evening prayers.

In front of the temple, with a road running by, is a small Hanuman temple, also a part of the temple complex. Parked yards away is the rath or chariot on which the presiding deity of the temple is taken around the area in procession for Brahmotsavam on Shudh Ekadasi.

To fulfil a wish

“This was a wild forest area where mendicants would stop to smoke hookah, cook, eat and go. One day, one of the soldiers of Nizam met one of those sadhus and spoke about how he was without children. The sadhu suggested that he build a temple for Pandharinath Vitthala to get his wish fulfilled. The soldier was reluctant. The sadhu told him not to believe him but to just make a sankalp (promise) about the temple for Vitthala and execute the promise only if his wish was fulfilled. Within two years, the soldier had a son and he donated the piece of land for building the temple,” says Raju Maharaj, the sixth generation temple priest, who carries out the rituals and leads prayers every day at the temple.

“In the middle of the small forested area, the temple came up more than 150 years ago. Some believe the temple was built by Singam Rajiah. It was nestled in a forested area as the Musi flows close by. Just over the last 15-20 years all these big buildings have come up,” says Surya Maharaj, hailing from a family of priests.

The family of priests traces its descent from Ramacharya who came from Paithan near Sant Eknath’s birthplace. Not surprisingly, the area has a fair sprinkling of Mahrashtrian families who speak Marathi at home and Telugu, Hindi and English outside. Nearby, is the Vivek Vardhani Girls School.

What sets apart the temple is the architectural style of the shikaram. It is a replica of the famed shikaram of Pandharpur right down to the detailing and style.

“There was a smaller temple here with thick walls and it could not accommodate enough devotees so we built a new temple keeping the inner sanctorum intact. We wanted to replicate the temple of Pandharpur exactly. But once the artisans from Tamil Nadu started working on it we realised that the temple will be dwarfed by the buildings around it. We changed the plan a little to ensure that the shikaram soars above the neighbouring buildings,” says Raju Maharaj.

Festive spirit

The area comes alive during the Brahmotsavam with the chariot being wheeled around the area to the sound of drums, pipes and cymbals. Steering the chariot with just wheels in the small bylanes of the area near Sultan Bazar is a skilled task which is done by a family of charioteers. “They use wooden sticks to turn the chariot which requires quite some skill,” says Surya Maharaj. But when the chariot wends its way through the narrow lanes, with devotees singing, clapping and chanting bhajans, it is easy to forget that the Jungle Vithoba temple is in the midst of a concrete jungle and not a forested one.

 

Courtesy    The Hindu

 

Pillallamarri

The Banyan Tree is an integral part of Indian folklore and Pillalamarri is home to one of the biggest ones in South India spread over a whopping three acres and going back to 800 years.  The tree that resembles a dense wooded area rather than a lone giant tree has many a surprise in store. One can see religious shrines tucked away in its folds and branches.  Pillalamarri is often called by different names including Peerla marri   Pillala Marri  or Peerlamarri.

The giant tree which forms a massive wooded canopy can easily shelter around 1000 people.   Other added attractions here include a small aquarium and a museum. The Indian Postal Department has even released a stamp to commemorate the tree.  Do remember to carry food along as there are limited options on this route.

Do not miss

Jolly hills near Mahbubnagar which is an amusement park and an ideal pit stop and a newly relocated Shiva temple which was earlier submerged under the Srisailam reservoir project.

Distance from Hyderabad

90 kmts.

Courtesy      The Hindu

Tourist  Destinations in Telangana state

Bhadrachalam

bhadrachalam

The famous temple of Lord Rama is situated at the banks of Gadavari here. The 17th century temple has the Abhaya Anjaneya temple [ dedicated to Lord Hanuman ] and Parnasala nearby.  Parnasala is a village situated in Khammam district where according to legend. Lord Rama spent some time during his 14 years of exile.

Basar

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Known as the holy seat of Goddess Saraswati it has one of the only two temple of the goddess in the country. Devotees throng here to perform “ Akshara Abhyasam” for their children. About 100 meters north of the temple is cave known as Narahari Maluka. It is believed that Veda Vyas the author of Mahabharata  meditated here.

Jannaram

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Located at the end of dense forests of Adilabad. Jannaram is a small village surrounded by thick woodlands. It is an emerging eco-tourism hotspot near the Kawal Wildlife Sancturay.

Kadam Dam

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Built on Kadam River a tributary of Gadavari the dam also has a reservoir. It has a lake tourism hotel where visitors can enjoy the tranquility and natural beauty of the surroundings.

Dharmapuri

Dharmapuri

Located on the banks of Godavari in Karim nagar is the 10th century Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy  temple town. As per legend King Bali Varma had performed the Sharma Devta Yagna here following which the town was named Dharmapuri.

Kaleshwaram

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The confluence of Pranahita and Godavari. It houses the ancient temple of Mukteshwara swamy.

Vemulavada temple

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The Vemulawada Rajarajeswara temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is situated 38 kmts from Karim nagar. Interestingly there is a Muslim mosque inside the temple complex where all devotees offer prayers irrespective of caste and creed.

Courtesy  DECCAN CHRONICLE –  Pictures Courtesy Google

week end visit to Kolanpaka

DSC00932Jain shrine at the village of Kolanupaka in Nalgonda district, Andhra Pradesh, India. The temple houses three idols: one each of Lord Rishabha, Lord Neminath, and Lord Mahaveer. The image of Lord Rishabha, carved of a green stone has been historically famous as “Manikyaswami”. The temple is about 80 km from Hyderabad on the Hyderabad-Warangal Highway NH 163. Lord Rishabha, popularly called Adinath Bhagvan, was the first Tirthankar in the Jain. There are eight idols of the other Tirthankars on both the sides of the main temple. The statue of Lord Mahaveer is 130 centimetres (51 in) tall and is said to be made of a single piece of jade. Idols of Lord Simandar Swami and Mata Padmavati are installed on either side of the main temple..

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Kulpakji is an important pilgrimage center for Svetambara Jains of South India. Also, the Someshwara Temple is very famous, which was established by Chalukya’s about 800 years back. Kolanu means a Lake and Paka means a Hut. There used to be lots of lakes and huts and this caused to get this name The temple was recently renovated by employing more than 150 artisans from Rajasthan and Gujarat supervised by Sompuras. The old garbhagrah was preserved and a complete new temple was created surrounding the existing towerDSC01113

The Jain temple here is made out of red sand stone and white marble pillars. The intricate carvings on the temple walls and ceilings are worth praising. And the rich look inside is also well maintained. This is a new construction over an old temple which is said to be having a history of 2000 years. Jineshwar Idol is also known by Manikyaswamy as the idol is said to be carved using the jewel of a ring worn by King Bharatheswar.DSC00986

According to mythology, the Jineshwar idol present over here was originally at Ayodhya and then later on taken to Vethadai mountain and there after its praise reaching the heavens; lord Indra, who is the king of Gods has carried the idol to the heavens. Later the idol was brought to earth by Sri Ravana by pleasing the king of Gods.DSC01039

Sri Rani Mandodari consort of Sri Ravana, is a Jain by religion and comes to know about this Jinneshwar and takes a wish to start praying this idol. Ravana fulfills her wish by performing a great penance and pleases Indra to obtain it and thus brings back to earth. Ultimately because of the actions of Ravana abducting Sita Devi, consort of Sri Rama. Gods convey the message to Mandodri to pass away the idol in the deep seas. After lots of years, a king from the Karnataka region named Shankar takes the responsibility to bring up this idol as an advice from the spiritual guides to protect his country people from an epidemic. Thus with help of a sacred process he brings out the idol from the seas and on his way back he halts at this place called Kolanpak and there he gets a resistance to move the idol further, considering it as god’s decision the king decides to build a magnificent temple around it. religion. It is believed that the original idol of Lord Adinath, known locally as Manikya Deva, has made Kolanupaka its abode.DSC00947

We visited this Jain temple and Someswar temples on March 1st  2014. We started by 7 A.M   and had a great time there. While returning home we visited Bhongir Fort also  and came home by 3 P.M  Very enjoyable and unforgettable week end trip.

COURTESY       GOOGLE

High in the khasi hills

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High in the Khasi hills Cherrapunjee in Meghalaya is en-circled in a blanket of drizzle most of the time. Till recently it was the wettest place on earth. Now the title has passed on to the neighbouring town Mawsynram which recorded the highest rainfall in the world recently. Originally known as sohra the land of oranges Cherrapunjee has a regular stream of visitors through the year.download

The drive to Cherrapunjee approximately 56 km from Shillong is scenic dotted with meadows and waterfalls. The Mawkdow Dympep valley takes your breath away. Riat Mawiew the grand canyon is a popular spot with tourists. At Thangkharang park on a clear day one can see the Bangladesh plains.images

There is a lot to explore in Cherrapunjee. For accommodation there are snug cottages and the eateries that provide delectable food. The bazaar is a n interesting  places to browse around. This place was once the favourite of the British and the monuments that dot the place are a testimony to the fact

The highlights of the region are the waterfalls Kynrem, Noh-Kalikai, Dain-Thlen and Noh-Sngithiang falls are the popular ones. From afar these majestic falls appear as sheets of vapour rolling off the lush green mountains. The original name for this town was Sohra which has pronounced “CHURRA” by the British. “CHERRAPUNJEE” means ‘ land of oranges’.download (1)

When in Cherrapunjee visit the spectacular falls the caves and the canyon. But above all remember to cross the living root bridge.

Tales and legends

“ The waterfalls here are some of the highest in the country. Each of the falls has a local legent attached to it. So do the Mawsmal limestone caves and Khoh Ramhah or the pillar rock” says one of the residents. A spectacular man-made structure to be seen in Cherrapunjee is the living root bridge. Thousands of stairs and long trek later one comes to a double-decker root bridge. In these remote areas these bridges serve as the only means to cross gushing streams.images (1)

Though the day trip is tiring it makes for good memories and lovely photographs. The sun sets really early in these areas so equip yourself with many storybooks for the remainder of your evening when you return from the picnic.

Down the ages

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There are generally two types of kids. Those who think museums are serious boring places. And the other who feel museums are fun exciting places where you can learn lots of things. A visit to Salar Jung Museum in Hyderabad will convert all to lovers of museums. Simply because among the exhibits in this museum there is a section especially marked for children.

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The Salar Jung Museum is the world’s largest one man art collection. The Indian Parliament has declared the museum an Institution of National Importance. The museum currently has thirty eight galleries divided into three blocks  Indian Block Western Block and Eastern Block and approximately 13654  objects are on display. They belong to periods ranging from second century B.C  to the early 20th century A Ddownload (2)

Mir Yousuf Ali Khan widely known as Salar Jung III was responsible for acquiring most of this collection. Hence the museum is named after him. The children’s section is fascinating. On the ground floor is the Flora and Fauna Gallery. On display are hundreds of real looking animals and birds made of marble porcelain and metal. They are from Japan  China and European countries. There is a large Toys and Dolls Gallery where you will find hundreds of beautiful dolls and toys in all sizes shapes and colours and from various cultures around the world.images

A big attraction is the Toy Army. It contains nearly 8000 small and colourful toys in wood and metal representing European armies. Nearby is a collection of wooden marble and porcelain toys and also a lovely Doll House.download (3)

The Musical Clock is another favourite. Salar Jung bought this large ornate clock from Cook and Kelvey of England. At every hour a timekeeper emerges from the upper deck of the clock and strikes a gong. There are many more amazing clocks including Grandfather clocks, Bird Cage clocks, Bracket clocks. Skeleton clocks and more.images (2)

The Deputy Keeper Salar Jung Museum Ch.Srinivas  Rao explains that there are various events for children round the year. Also during children’s week ie November 14 to 20 all children can enter free of cost.images (3)

Across its galleries Salar Jung museum contains stunningly beautiful works of art sourced from around the world including India. Since each item is captioned mentioning date and origin you can learn a lot about art.images (1)

 

Courtesy   ARUNA CHANDRARAJU   THE HINDU    YOUNG WORLD